Are You Crazy Busy?

I got and read Kevin Deyoung’s new book yesterday, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About A (Really) Big Problem which has since then dropped in price to $7.99. This is a very quick read, which is really helpful when I’m so busy!

The book is broken up into 3 main parts: the problem plaguing many in the Western world today (being too busy), followed by 7 plagues of busyness, and finally, a “what now?” conclusion chapter. The introduction set the stage for this current dilemma with some very helpful questions (like “Do you check work e-mails and phone messages at home?”) as well as some statistics that I had often pondered but never had concrete answers to (like the fact that our annual hours have increased from 1,716 in 1967 to 1,878 in 2000, which is an extra hour every day compared to the British, and 2 more hours a day than the Germans and Italians).

The meat of the book are 7 diagnoses Kevin suggests we need to use to self-evaluate. The most impactful for me were chapters 5 – ‘You Can’t Serve Others without Setting Priorities’ and 7 – ‘You Are Letting the Screen Strangle Your Soul.’ I far too often just say yes to everything that comes my way, and while this can be for very good things, is it always the best use of my time? Absolutely not! Kevin says, “Efficiency is not the goal. But if Jesus is any example, God does expect us to say no to a whole lot of good things so that we can be freed up to say yes to the most important thing he has for us.” I know for many people in my generation (early 30s even in to high school) the threat of technology invading our lives is a constant struggle. Even during youth group I see a majority of the students on their cell phones (always in their Bibles, right?). I just this week turned all the notifications off on my cell phone which has honestly been such a burden lifted off me (I’m planning to blog on that later).

The final chapter, while very good, seemed to be adding just one more mandate onto an already busy life – the need for prayer and devotions. While I agree this is something that needs to be the utmost priority in our lives, I don’t think it should be because we need to, but because we want to spend the precious time in communion with our God.

While this is a very good book about the busyness of our current lives, it felt a bit unfinished to me. As Kevin admits in the beginning of the book, “I’m writing this not because I know more than others but because I want to know more than I do.” David Murray has written a very good addendum to this book with some practical steps people can implement in their own lives in order to get rid of some of the busyness in their own lives.

“A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books, and make fine speeches, and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is serious.”

-J.C. Ryle ‘A Call to Prayer

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Gay Marriage – My Continuing Thoughts

I found two very good articles on this issue today, and combined with an interesting discussion on a friends Facebook wall I thought it was time to get some of my thoughts written down on what the Supreme Court is deciding now. The first article is by Barnabas Piper. You may recognize his last name, and yes, he is the son of John Piper. The title of the blog is ‘Tired of the Gay Marriage Debate?‘ The main point I most appreciated from this post is his thoughts on the government:

Why are we putting so much hope in the government?
Governments are, and have always been, broken systems run by broken sinners. We benefit greatly from good ones but ought not make the mistake of putting our hope in them. The hope we put in the government is evidenced by the energy we pour into influencing it, as if this is the means through which victory will be gained. But what I see is Christians doing what Jesus’ disciples did – hoping in the overthrow of the Romans rather than the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom. We cannot see government as the ultimate decision makers or ultimate law makers. We live in a monarchy, and our king is perfect. Put more faith in Him than in the Supreme Court or any other governmental body.

Too many people think that we live in a “Christian” country governed by “Christian” values. While this country may have been founded on principle that are found in Scripture, until Christ comes back to rule and reign we will never have a truly Christian nation.

Tied into that is that so many people seem to be surprised at the culture’s push against biblical values and beliefs. This has been happening since the fall! Jesus said in Matthew 24, “they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” Not just disliked, we will be hated! It shouldn’t surprise anyone in the church that culture pushes back so forcefully to Scriptures commands.

The second article I really appreciated is from Kevin DeYoung on ‘Why the Arguments for Gay Marriage are Persuasive.‘ He goes through a list of why the arguments are persuasive and does a great job of interacting with them. One of the ones that stuck out to me is that it’s about love. In our culture today, people equate love with making love to someone else. Kevin says, “But hidden in this simple reasoning is the cultural assumption that sexual intercourse is necessarily the highest, and perhaps the only truly fulfilling, expression of love. It’s assumed that love is always self-affirming and never self-denying. It’s assumed that our loves never require redirection.” 1 John 4 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Added to that is 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. No where in either of this lists is love making equated with love, in fact it’s the opposite, throughout Scripture love is meant to be self-sacrificing.

So what should we do? As one of my friends put on facebook, “With the Supreme Court hearing the arguments for and against the constitutionality of CA Prop8, I would make the argument that the government needs to get out of the business of marriage. Allow the church to handle it and honor the unions that churches create. I understand that it’s a matter of national importance, but let’s be honest, the government hasn’t been doing so well with it (Divorce rates are at over 50% according to the CDC). So why not leave it alone?” (Thanks, AMill) I too think that the government should back off of this issue and leave it to the churches to determine. There are plenty of churches today that will marry same-sex couples and plenty that will not. Finally, I think Kevin DeYoung has some very helpful applications to this issue:

1) We need to go back several steps in each argument. We’ll never get a hearing on this issue, or a dozen others issues, unless we trace out the assumptions behind the assumptions behind the arguments behind the conclusions.

2) We need more courage. The days of social acceptability for evangelicals, let alone privilege, are fading fast in many parts of the country. If we aren’t prepared to be counter-cultural we aren’t ready to be Christians. And we need courage not to just say what the Bible says, but to dare say what almost no one will say–that gay sex is unnatural and harmful to the body, that abandoning gender distinctions will be catastrophic for our society and for children, and that monogamy and exclusivity is often understood differently in the gay community.

3) We need more creativity. Statements and petitions and manifestos have their place, but what we really need is more than words and documents. We need artists and journalists and movie makers and story tellers and spoken word artists and comedians and actors and rappers and musicians who are galvanized by the truth to sing and speak and share in such a way that makes sin look strange and righteousness look normal.

4) We need a both-and approach. In the months ahead I imagine we’ll see Christians wrestle with whether the best way forward is to form new arguments that appeal to people where they’re at, or whether we simply need to keep preaching the truth and trust God to give some people the ears to hear. I’m convinced we need to do both. Let’s keep preaching, teaching, and laboring for faithful churches. Let’s be fruitful and multiply. Let’s train our kids in the way they should go. Let’s keep sharing the good news and praying for revival. And let’s also find ways to make the truth plausible in a lost world. Not only the truth about marriage, but the truth about life and sex and creation and beauty and family and freedom and a hundred other things humans tend to forget on this side of Adam. The cultural assumptions in our day are not on our side, but if the last 50 years has shown us anything, it’s that those assumptions can change more quickly than we think.

I pray that we will not do one of two things:

  1. Distance ourself from the culture. We are to be culture changers, the church has too often withdrawn into our own safe bubble instead of interacting with what is going on in the culture at large.
  2. Become like the culture. Too many Christians want to be just like the world, neglecting Christ’s command to fight against sin and the culture of the world.

Maranatha: Lord come quickly.